Subway ‘surfing’ leaves grisly, lethal toll

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — One-time subway “surfer” Isa Islam has a straightforward message for thrill-seeking youngsters sparking a surge in riders traveling on the roofs of New York City trains: don’t do it.

Islam was left partially blind when his head smacked into a metal beam at an underground station in Brooklyn as he rode atop a subway car aged 17 in 2013.

“I went up there just to get an adrenaline rush. It was extremely stupid,” the now 27-year-old told Agence France-Presse, recalling his first and last attempt at so-called subway surfing.

Reports of people riding outside of carriages on America’s largest subway system have quadrupled in one year, according to newly released data.
Transport officials blame videos of youngsters performing the daredevil stunts on social media for causing copycat attempts.

The death of a 15-year-old boy last month, which followed that of another teenager in December, led police to warn the subway is “not a playground.”

Late at night in November 2013, Islam — just days away from his 18th birthday — and two cousins climbed atop a southbound F train.

As it came into the Fourth Avenue-Ninth Street station in Park Slope, Islam looked away momentarily before slamming straight into the beam.

‘I went up there just to get an adrenaline rush. It was extremely stupid.’

He went in and out of consciousness as blood soaked the roof of the train. His cousins thought he was dead.

“The pain level was off the meter. I’m squirting hot sauce out of my scalp,” Islam recalled.

The New Yorker was admitted to intensive care and spent six weeks in hospital. He underwent “numerous” surgeries and is now visually impaired.
Islam considers himself lucky to be alive but the reckless act is his great regret.

“If there is anybody in need of a time machine it is me,” he said.

Islam now warns about the dangers of subway surfing in his role as a motivational speaker for Breaking the Cycle, a nonprofit that urges people to overcome difficulties by choosing forgiveness.

“It’s not a video game. 110 percent do not subway surf,” he said.

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